January 4, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
January 4, 2015
Fr. George Smiga
Christians have always been fascinated by the story of the Magi who come to honor the Christ child. In fact, I do not know of any other passage in the New Testament that has generated more legends in an attempt to fill out the information not present in the biblical text.
One of those legends begins by suggesting that the Magi were of different ages. Caspar was the youngest, a boy in his teens, still in school. (This is why it was fortunate for him that the journey to Bethlehem took place during Christmas break.) Balthazar was a middle-aged man, married with four children, and a successful businessman in the camel trade. (This allowed him to write off the trip as a business expense.) And Melchior was a senior citizen who had just lost his wife of forty-five years in death. (He, of course, had the most difficulty getting free for the journey, because we all know you are never so busy as when you decide to retire.)
The story continues that after the Magi visited King Herod and were led to the house of Joseph in Bethlehem, they made a decision of how to proceed. They decided that before they entered as a group, they would first enter individually to introduce themselves. Young Caspar was the first to go in. When he entered the house there was no one there except a boy his age working with some carpentry tools. He introduced himself and the boys connected immediately. They shared how they loved their parents, but how their parents so seldom understood. Caspar told the boy that he had a crush on a girl in school and was building up the courage to ask her out. Both boys shared what they wanted to do in life and how they hoped to make a difference.
When Caspar came out, Balthazar went in. What he saw was a businessman like himself at a desk preparing invoices for his customers. The two men began immediately to talk shop: complaining about the difficulty of finding good employees and meeting government regulations. When they turned to their families, each told the other about their children: who was the sassy one, and who had the deepest curiosity. Finally each man shared with the other a detailed description of the woman they had married, admitting that she often drove him crazy but he knew that she was God’s greatest gift.
When Balthazar left, Melchior went in, limping a little because of his bad hip. The room was empty, except for an elderly man asleep in the corner. When he woke up, the man explained that he found an afternoon nap gave him more energy. Immediately the two began to share tips about growing older. When Melchior found out that the man had also recently lost his wife, the conversation deepened. Each man understood that strange mixture of thankfulness and loneliness that the death of their spouse brought about. Each supported the other as he admitted his fear concerning his approaching death.
When Melchior left the house the three Magi picked up their gifts and entered together. Then, just as the scripture tells us: They found the child with Mary his mother, and they prostrated themselves and did him homage. It was only on their way home that they began to realize what had happened. Each of them had seen Jesus. But God became human so that God could be present to us and speak to us at every age of our lives and in every circumstance.
So on this Epiphany day the story of the Magi suggests that when you pray, when you speak to Jesus, do not picture him as a baby in a manger, or a Savior on the cross. Picture him as yourself, as someone who knows the circumstances of your life intimately. Know him as someone who understands your dreams and your joys, your doubts and your temptations, your accomplishments and your fears. God became human to love us personally and specifically. So talk to Jesus. He already knows your life better than you do. Speak to him as a brother and as a friend, because that after all is why he became one of us.